The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas named as its new deputy chief on Thursday a formerly Turkey-based commander whom Israel has accused of orchestrating a lethal triple kidnapping that helped trigger the 2014 Gaza war.
Saleh al-Arouri’s promotion comes as Hamas seeks to close ranks with U.S.-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after a decade-old schism, in an entente Israel says will not revive peace talks unless Hamas recognizes its right to exist and disarms.
The Palestinian Information Centre, a Hamas-linked news site, said Arouri, who was born in the occupied West Bank and was exiled by Israel in 2010 after long stints in its prisons, had been elected as deputy to the group’s leader Ismail Haniyeh.
“He (Arouri) is now the Hamas movement’s No. 2 man,” the site said. “Twenty-three years of detention and expulsion have not weakened the resolve of the leader Saleh al-Arouri, 51.”
After three Israeli teens were abducted and killed in the West Bank in June 2014, Arouri - then in Istanbul - claimed responsibility in the name of Hamas. A 50-day war in the Gaza Strip soon erupted.